One of the most original and best bands of current Metal is back with their fifth album: EVERGREY from Sweden. Even though they do not necessarily use style elements that other bands never had used before, they already sounded pretty original on their debut “The Dark Discovery” in 1998 and even then it became pretty evident that this Gothenburg band was not really suited for everyone as they by far are not as easily digestible as many others.
In the course of the years the own style became clearer and clearer and now they, as mentioned already, are back for the fifth time, “The Inner Circle” is the title and what has changed compared to “Recreation Day”? Well, for one the drummer, because Patrick Carlsson has left the band. Replacement was found almost in their own ranks, because with former drum technician Jonas Ekdahl the line-up could be completed quickly.
Apart from that they again have placed the (very interesting) cover into the trusted hands of Mattias Norén, simple, but very expressive, and the production, as on the previous album, has been taken care of by Ton Englund and Henrik Danhage themselves and once more has turned out to be truly excellent.
“A Touch Of Blessing“ starts out extremely quiet, so that one already wonders, if it is a completely silent track, before clean guitars and Tom Englund’s vocals set in and finally the song turns into rather slow paced tracks with heavy, EVERGREY typical riffing and melodic leads, with a very haunting chorus (with some female vocals) and Tom’s extraordinary, very expressive, charismatic and emotional voice.
“Ambassador“ then unleashes some staccato-like riffing and keyboards, but then with a very calm and slow paced chorus, with some spoken choir. For the first time we also get spoken samples, very moody and altogether this is a very intense track that is among the best that EVERGREY ever have done! And it continues like that, “In The Wake Of The Weary“ has a very powerful start, broken by a very calm passage with female vocals, to rebuild the intensity and again using these spoken samples.
With “Harmless Wishes“ and the ballad “Waking Up Blind“ things get a bit quieter, before “More Than Ever” unpacks heavy riffing again and gets a bit more progressive, and then offering us one of the best tracks here: “The Essence Of Conviction“. Everything fits here, straight, progressive, heavy riffing, very catchy melodies, greatly used speech samples and an extraordinary vocal performance by Tom Englund, only few singers manage to combine aggression, despair and emotions in general as impressive as him, outstanding track!
“Faith Restored” only consists of vocals and plucked acoustic guitars, here and there even with some violins. The closing track “When The Walls Go Down“ should also be mentioned. At the beginning we get some of those samples together with piano, sounding very desperate, just to get more symphonic, with keyboards and rhythm, before then heavy double-bass, guitars and symphonic keyboards set in, which rise towards the end, definitely an unusual track.
And also lyrically EVERGREY set themselves apart from the masses, because ever since the beginning nobody kills and dragons or something like that, but following the song “Unforgivable” off their debut, they have built a concept dealing with people, who molest children and then hide behind their religion to be safe from the law. They don’t want to put down Christianity, but fanatics.
Like the previous albums, EVERGREY do not ignite right away, but take a few more rotations to develop in your ears, but then you will be rewarded with another masterpiece of progressive Metal, which puts another highlight into the already strong string of albums. Unusual band, unusual album = damn strong effort! (Online April 29, 2004)